• George Washington in Barbados?

    by Erica Johnson Edwards

    The local monuments to George Washington's 1751 visit to Barbados demonstrate the interconnectedness of American and Caribbean histories as well as the influence of Caribbean practices of enslavement on the institution in the United States. 

  • Some Escaped Slavery Without Escaping the South

    by Viola Franziska Müller

    The majority of people escaping slavery before Emancipation never crossed the Mason-Dixon line, finding a measure of freedom in southern cities. 

  • Edward Larson Speaks to the New History Wars

    by Jon Meacham

    "To me, Larson’s unemotional account of the Republic’s beginnings confirms a tragic truth: that influential white Americans knew — and understood — that slavery was wrong and liberty was precious, but chose not to act according to that knowledge and that understanding."

  • Teach the History Behind "Emancipation" with the Primary Sources

    by Alan J. Singer

    Antoine Fuqua and Will Smith's "Emancipation" has rediscovered the life of an enslaved man variously called Peter or Gordon, who had been made famous through an 1863 photograph. Here's how history teachers can use the primary records of his life to accompany the film. 

  • Was the Civil War Inevitable?

    by David W. Blight

    As a growing number of Americans entertain the idea that dissolving the nation might be better than holding its incompatible parts together, it's worth revisiting the series of decisions that led to the Civil War, and to ask whether the nation has, or will, experience the equivalent of the Dred Scott decision. 

  • Was Emancipation Intended to Perpetuate Slavery by Other Means?

    by Sean Wilentz

    Protests movements have latched on to a misguided interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment that argues it allowed and even encouraged the system of mass incarceration as an extension of slavery. A new global history extends that critique to the age of emancipation in general.

  • William Still Preserved the Black History of Abolition at a Time of Danger

    by Julia W. Bernier

    After emancipation, the meticulous records William Still kept about the fellow Black people he helped to reach freedom became a tool in a different struggle: to fight against the erasure of Black humanity and power by proponents of Jim Crow and the Lost Cause. 

  • Review: Reevaluating the Grimke Sisters and White Abolitionism

    by Drew Gilpin Faust

    Kerri Greenidge's new history of the Grimke family of South Carolina shows that, while sisters Sarah and Angelina left the south to advocate abolition and feminism, the institution of slavery compromised all white people connected to it. 

  • William Still: Forgotten Father of the Underground Railroad

    by Andrew Diemer

    William Still died in 1902 as one of the most famous and well-respected Black men in America. But since, the quiet nature of his work and his preference to preserve the stories of the individuals he helped to find freedom have diminished his standing among abolitionist heroes. 

  • Revisiting Saidiya Hartman on the Meaning of Freedom

    by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

    A quarter century after publication, "Scenes of Subjection" still shows how Americans have embraced emancipation as a national expurgation of the sin of slavery, without stopping to consider the substantive meaning of freedom. 

  • Confronting Slavery in the Archives at Georgetown

    by Cassandra Berman

    Jesuit records pertaining to slavery have been housed at Georgetown since 1977. Their unremarked presence highlights the important difference between presence and accessibility in the archives and the work required to document historical responsibility.